- Courtesy of Dana Bull
A millennial herself, Boston-based real estate agent Dana Bull understands the proclivities of many of today’s first-time homebuyers.
The 27-year-old bought her first property – a condo in Salem, Massachusetts – with her now-husband five years ago. They discovered at the time that it was actually more affordable to buy, in terms of monthly payments, than it was to rent, Bull told Business Insider.
But eventually, the pair decided to move to Boston and rented out their condo to tenants. Soon, that passive income was enough to cover their $3,600 rent in Boston, and they became amazed by the pay off in real estate investing.
Today, they own six homes and 18 apartments in Boston and the North Shore.
But Bull, who left her job as a marketing consultant over a year ago to become a realtor, recognizes that buying a home for the first time – whether to live in or rent out – can seem intimidating.
“[Young people] are very fearful of making the wrong step and I do think that, in general, there’s this fear of growing up, of making these big decisions, because it means you are officially an adult. And it’s not that scary,” said Bull, now a realtor with Sotheby’s International.
One way to reduce the intimidation of shopping for your first home is to narrow your focus. Bull said a common mistake she sees among millennials is getting distracted by the small stuff.
“I try to educate my buyers that it’s not about the stainless steel, it’s not about the granite or marble countertops, you would be surprised at how affordable some of those finishes are to put in,” she said.
Instead, Bull says, you should really be looking at the “infrastructure and big-ticket items … [like] roofs, plumbing, electrical,” especially in areas with older, historic properties, like Boston.
“[I’m] kind of training my buyers’ eyes on craftsmanship quality and what certain things cost,” she said. “For new buyers, they have no idea what a new countertop costs. So it’s kind of this whole educational experience of, ‘You know, that’s a lot cheaper than having to replace your heating system.'”
In the end, you’ll get better bang for your buck if you’re buying a property based on its bones rather than its flourishes.